By Dennis Last update December 12, 2018 Comments: 7

blog-banner-google-shopping-campaign-priority

Google Shopping campaign priority is a pretty advanced concept.

It might seem pretty simply and straightforward, but it is not.

I’ve seen many cases where smart business owners have done the hard work to get their campaigns set up correctly, but get this one setting wrong. This causes their campaigns to not run the way they intended, leading to a higher cost per click and higher cost per sale.

In this article I’ll show you what campaign priority is and how to use it correctly in your Google Shopping campaigns.

Bonus: Watch our free Google Shopping optimization training. This exclusive video features the tactics and strategies that will put you on the fast track to profitable campaigns. Get access now!

Here are the parts we’ll cover:

More of a video person? No worries, I’ve got you covered:

What exactly is campaign priority?

Every time a search query happens, Google Ads looks through its inventory which advertisers (text and products ads) want to appear.

Google then:

  1. pulls all of these (product) ads together
  2. calculates quality scores
  3. checks the max CPCs of each advertiser for that specific search query
  4. ranks the ads

Campaign priority allows you to impact #3: how much you bid for a specific search query.

Controlling how much you spend for each click is an essential part of optimizing your campaigns. Most advertisers use it to bid differently for branded versus generic search queries.

The campaign priority setting acts as a filter that decides which campaign should serve the ad for a specific search query at the max cost per click defined in that campaign.

To get this filter to work, you’ll also need to add negative keywords to your campaigns.

That covers the basics, let’s dig a little deeper and address some common problems.

The 2 Most Common Mistakes with Campaign Priority

There are two big mistakes that I see when it comes to campaign priority:

  1. Setting a different priority for campaigns with different products
  2. Simply using the setting wrong

Here is what Google tells about campaign priority in its support docs:

Campaign priority is useful when you’re advertising the same product, for the same country, in multiple Shopping campaigns.

So if you’re using multiple Google Shopping campaigns where each campaign has different products, campaign priority won’t have any effect.

Example: if you’re using custom labels to split up your products into Bestsellers & Rest. Each of these campaigns will have its own products. So using different campaign priorities between them won’t make a difference.

Campaign priority options

Google Shopping campaign priority in adwords
Google Shopping campaign priority settings in the Google Ads interface

Google Ads gives you three options for the campaign priority:

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High

Google Shopping will always try to serve the campaign with the highest priority.

Examples:

  • If you have a Low & Medium campaign, it will start with the Medium one.
  • If you have a Low, Medium & High campaign, it starts with the High one.

There are two occasions when Google will switch to a lower priority campaign:

  1. When a negative keyword is preventing that specific campaign from showing a product ad
  2. When a campaign’s budget has run out

That first one is exactly what we’re trying to do, using a combo negative keywords and campaign priority to get the right campaign to serve the ad.

When a campaign’s budget runs out, the campaign priorities won’t work as intended, you can use a shared budget to prevent this from happening  (check below for more on shared budgets).

This process will repeat itself until Google finally finds which of your campaigns should serve an ad for that specific search query.

Campaign Priority In Practice

Now we finally get to the most important part: which campaign should be set to which campaign priority.

Let me illustrate this with an example.

Instead of running 1 Shopping campaign to target all search queries, we’ll split it up into two campaigns that have the same products, targeting the same language and the same country.

Their only difference is that one will target branded search queries, while the other one will focus on generic ones:

  • Shopping – brand with a max CPC of $0.8
  • Shopping – generic with a max CPC of $0.5

Example 1: Both campaigns with the same campaign priority

We add the brand as a negative keyword to the generic campaign and set both campaigns with a campaign priority of Medium.

What will happen now is that Google will see an interesting search query for our products and will check our campaigns which it should pick.

Since both campaigns have the same campaign priority, it will use the product (or product group) with the highest bid. In this example, that’s the “Shopping – brand” campaign with a $0.8 CPC.

Notice that this can be a generic search query since there is nothing preventing Google from using the brand campaign to serve these ads.

Example 2: Both campaigns with a different campaign priority

Now let’s give both campaigns the correct campaign priority:

  • Shopping – brand: campaign priority: Low
  • Shopping – generic: campaign priority: Medium

Giving a higher priority to the less valuable campaign might seem counterintuitive.

But campaign priority simply means that we tell Google where we want them to start.

We want to pay the least possible for each click. So we tell Google to give priority to try and use the bid from the campaigns that has the lowest bid.

Our more valuable campaigns, in the case with branded keywords with higher bids, should only be used for the keywords we intend it for, branded search queries.

Shared budgets add the final touch

You might already be using shared budgets between campaigns to keep control over the total spend in your account.

google-ads-shared-budgets-campaign-priority

But if you’re working with campaign priorities, it’s an essential piece to have in place.

Because if one of your campaigns runs out of budget, Google will simply ignore that campaign and serve ads from your lower priority, more expensive campaign.

If you put the campaigns that are meant to work together on a shared budget, you won’t have this problem.

My premium training course

If you like this post but want to go through the Google Shopping setup and optimization in more detail? Check out my Google Shopping course. Through a series of videos, you’ll go from scratch to having the first sales come in via your Shopping campaigns. The feedback so far has been really great so I encourage you to check it out!

Summary

Hope this article managed to explain what campaign priority is, how to use it with your Shopping campaigns.

Now let me know in the comments what your experience with campaign priority is!

Next step: Go even deeper with our free Google Shopping optimization training. This exclusive video features the tactics and strategies that will put you on the fast track to profitable campaigns. Get access now!

About the author

Dennis

Dennis is the founder of Store Growers. He's an ecommerce PPC expert from Belgium and has been running Google Ads campaigns for over 8 years.

His goal is to cut through the BS when it comes to ecommerce advice and provide you with tactics and strategies that will make you more money.

Read more

7 responses to “The Confusing Thing About Google Shopping Campaign Priority

  1. Hi,

    I found you through Google.
    Do you offer any services for the PLA, include create, set up google shopping ads and optimisation.
    Because my website sales of products have been unauthorized and production. But I saw other unauthorized sites have advertising on google shopping.
    I don’t know their how to avoid the google advertise audit to pulishing they advertising on google shopping.
    I need to you help to avoid the google advertise policy, let my product pulish the advertise on Google Shopping.
    If you can solve it, please contact us.
    Thanks.
    Looking forward your reply.

  2. Hi Dennis,

    Like the video and want to try your suggested setup. Have a couple questions on campaign setup. We have over 80K products from over 20 brands so I want to know if any of the following should be subdivided? Brand, ID, etc…

    1. Shopping – product: Low 1.00
    2. Shopping – Branded: Medium .85
    3. Generic Search Queries: High .50

    Let me know what you think.

    1. Hi Mike,
      You can have 3 campaigns for all of your products, as long as your through with your negative keyword lists.

      This can be a good improvement if you’re currently not doing any search query level bidding.

      But with 80k products, some of them are going to be more valuable than others. It will also become hard to control which products get most of your budget.

      So here are some ideas to improve the 3 campaign set up:
      – Split off your top brands and give them their own 3 campaigns (via the inventory filter in the settings)
      – Split off your bestsellers into their own 3 campaigns (add a custom label, than use an inventory filter)

      Hope this gives you some ideas on how to move forward!
      -Dennis

  3. Hi Dennis,

    I am about to get started with a high and low priority for branded and non branded searches, but I have one questions first:

    Right now I have two shopping campaigns (lets call them campaign A and B) with different products in each (both on low priority). If I copy one of these campaigns (lets say campaign A) and put all my branded keywords as negatives in this campaign (this will be my high priority low bid campaign, lets call this campaign C) will this new campaign C in any way impact campaign B which has not been duplicated and contains different products?

    Right now Campaign B does better for me and I want to experiment with using these campaign priority settings with campaign A first, but I want to make sure I don’t effect campaign B in any way.

    Hope this is not too confusing. Any thoughts would be helpful.

    Thanks
    Mike

    1. Hi Mike,
      Your thinking was correct. If campaigns contain different products, the campaign priority setting doesn’t have any effect.

      So in your example Campaign B will be untouched. While campaign A & C have the same products but target different search queries.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Hi Dennis,

    Are there not reasons Google will skip the priorities other than just location settings, negative keywords & budgets? I think any instance that disallows the higher priority campaign from showing for a query that the lower priority campaign can show for should allow Google to defy the priority structure, i.e ad schedules, search partners, -100% device bids and audience exclusions.

    Good article though, you put it well.

    Cheers
    Jed

    1. 100% correct Jed.

      If you’re using multiple campaigns with the same products, they have to be identical.

      Thanks for the additional remarks on other settings!

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